Beverages with fruit content below 10 per cent will not qualify as fruit juices as per the new definition of carbonated fruit beverages under the amended regulations issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Aerated beverages with fruit content below 10 per cent but not less than 5 per cent, and 2.5 per cent in case of lime or lemon, should be called carbonated beverage with fruit juice, according to the food safety regulator.
''… in such cases the requirement of TSS (total soluble solids) shall not apply and the quantity of fruit juice shall be declared on the label,'' says the FSSAI notification in The Gazette of India dated 25 October and was uploaded on FSSAI's website on 1 November.
TSS determines the quality of fruit juice content in beverages.
FSSAI had not issued any guidelines on aerated beverages nor had it defined carbonated fruit beverages or set standard that the industry should follow. In June, the food regulator had released a draft notification, defining 'carbonated fruit beverages or carbonated fruit drinks', seeking views from industry within two months.
Industry body, Indian Beverages Association, which was batting for a lower fruit content in fizzy beverages, had asked the regulator to lower the fruit juice content threshold in carbonated beverages from 10 per cent to 3 per cent.
In July home-grown Dabur India Ltd had launched a range of fruit juice-based aerated drinks under the brand, Réal VOLO, which the company claims has 20-25 per cent fruit juice content.
FSSAI thought of defining fruit-based carbonated beverages more than two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged multinational carbonated beverages companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to mix natural fruit juice (at least 5 per cent) in aerated beverages to help augment fruit sales for Indian farmers.
''Millions of people buy Pepsi and Coke. I have asked these companies if they can put 5 per cent natural juice in their drinks,'' Modi had said in September 2014.
Some of the beverages makers have already launched carbonated beverages with fruit content during the past one year.
Coca-Cola India, the local arm of American beverage maker Coca-Cola Co and rival PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd are already selling aerated fizzy drinds.
Cocoa Cola sells Fanta Green Mango, a carbonated drink that it claims has 10.4 per cent fruit content while Pepsi sells Nimbooz Masala Soda, a juice-based (5 per cent lemon juice) aerated beverage.
Ramesh Chauhan-led Parle Agro Pvt Ltd, which sells Appy Fizz, reentered the carbonated beverages market it exited in 1993 after selling five popular brands - Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot, Maaza and Citra - to Coca-Cola. Chauhan had a non-compete agreement with Coca-Cola that expired in 2008.
During the past few years, cola companies have seen sales of carbonated beverages being impacted with consumers opting for juices and fruit-based drinks. In 2015, juices saw a volume growth of 20.06 per cent and a value growth of 25.78 per cent over the previous year.
Fizzy drinks, in the same period, grew 8.42 per cent by volume and 10.82 per cent by value, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.